10 Resolutions for Congress this New Year

Commentary by Pete du Pont

2000 featured one of the most contentious and controversially close elections in our history. As 2001 dawns, it's time to take stock and resolve to do better in the coming year. Here are ten resolutions that Congress should consider this year.

Quit campaigning. For at least the next year, try to do the people's business instead of just the party's business. All too often the campaign issue is more desired than the legislative accomplishment. After a two year campaign and a month-long election night, it's time to stop campaigning.

Work together. Both parties should recognize the need to work in a bipartisan basis, so it's time to put away the knives and begin to work together. Note to Democrats: bipartisanship doesn't mean a total surrender by Republicans. So don't be surprised when Bush actually attempts to fulfill a campaign promise or two. Bipartisanship means both sides giving a little.

Let Bush pick his team. Conduct the confirmation process without fireworks, i.e. no Towers this time. Unless our new president taps the Unibomber to be the new Postmaster General, Congress should give the man the chance to succeed or fail with his own people.

Take less. Bush campaigned on tax relief and has rightfully signaled his intent to pursue it in 2001. Tax relief was a good idea during the campaign when the economy seemed stable, and it's an even better idea now that the economic wheels may be coming off.

Teach the children. As we continue to become a high skilled labor force, the success of our schools is increasingly important to our long-term economic well-being. Standards, accountability, and a way out if the school fails them are all necessary to prepare all kids for the jobs of tomorrow.

Secure our retirement. Bush proved that Social Security is no longer the third rail of American politics - and not a moment too soon. Social Security's current pay-as-you-go system, in which taxes taken from today's workers pay the benefits of today's retirees, is heading towards collapse. In 1940 there were 42 workers for each retiree. Now the ratio is three to one. Without reform, we won't be able avoid slashing benefits by 2015 without raising taxes or borrowing money. It's time to correct the problem while we still can, and allow each generation to control their own retirement.

Treat seniors like non-seniors. Medicare, unlike almost any private insurance policy, doesn't include coverage for prescriptions. Last Congress a bipartisan commission proposed giving seniors the same choices routinely available to non-seniors. Congress should quickly move to adopt a version of this model.

Expand health insurance. Millions of Americans lack health insurance. It's a real problem caused in part by the government. While government subsidizes employer-sponsored health insurance, it provides no relief for those who have to purchase insurance on their own. Fortunately a consensus is building around providing tax credits for the purchase of health insurance - even Bush and Gore supported varying degrees of this idea.

Build a shield. When Reagan first proposed a missile defense system, Democrats ridiculed it as "Star Wars." Now most everyone sees its value. It's time to implement it.

Heal our racial wounds. Much has been said about a growing racial division - some of it's accurate; some of it's not. And some originates from the despicable trend of some to look at race as an ideology. We will never be able to come together as one people as long as our leaders continue to promote racial paranoia, suspicion and hostility. Race has no party affiliation, and it shouldn't be misused to advance anyone's personal agenda


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